Controlled Doping of Electrocatalysts through Engineering Impurities

Kim, S.-H. and Yoo, S.-H. and Shin, S. and El-Zoka, A.A. and Kasian, O. and Lim, J. and Jeong, J. and Scheu, C. and Neugebauer, J. and Lee, H. and Todorova, M. and Gault, B.

Volume: 34 Pages:
DOI: 10.1002/adma.202203030
Published: 2022

Fuel cells recombine water from H2 and O2 thereby can power, for example, cars or houses with no direct carbon emission. In anion-exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFCs), to reach high power densities, operating at high pH is an alternative to using large volumes of noble metals catalysts at the cathode, where the oxygen-reduction reaction occurs. However, the sluggish kinetics of the hydrogen-oxidation reaction (HOR) hinders upscaling despite promising catalysts. Here, the authors observe an unexpected ingress of B into Pd nanocatalysts synthesized by wet-chemistry, gaining control over this B-doping, and report on its influence on the HOR activity in alkaline conditions. They rationalize their findings using ab initio calculations of both H- and OH-adsorption on B-doped Pd. Using this “impurity engineering” approach, they thus design Pt-free catalysts as required in electrochemical energy conversion devices, for example, next generations of AEMFCs, that satisfy the economic and environmental constraints, that is, reasonable operating costs and long-term stability, to enable the “hydrogen economy.”. © 2022 The Authors. Advanced Materials published by Wiley-VCH GmbH.

« back